Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 280-283)


18 JUNE 2003

  Q280  Mr Hamilton: I presume that there is an awful lot of heat generated by an explosive device.

  Dr Inch: They are low-explosive devices; they are not the big weapons; they are not high explosives. It is the minimum amount of energy required to disseminate the chemical.

  Q281  Mr Illsley: Given the difficulties that the international communities faced in Iraq in that the inspectors have had difficulty finding weapons and, as we understand it, some part of the military were sent to search and try and locate weapons and they failed and the difficulties faced by the Iraq tear-away group, is inspection going to be a thing of the past as a way of monitoring weapons of mass destruction in role countries? Is it working as it should be or do we have to look for an alternative way of policing weapons of mass destruction?

  Dr Inch: It depends which ones we are talking about in terms of the nuclear problem. Chemical is very difficult and, in a sense, the current policing activities probably internationally . . . Although they were intended originally to build confidence and they have gone some way to doing that but, as absolute deterrent, I do not think they work or will work. The problem that we now have on this kind of system is not so much the inter-state activity but the terrorist activity. Some of us believe very strongly that the only way to counter that is by much more national implementation of the inspection system and greater awareness amongst the legitimate citizens and the problems that could occur, but internationally because of the commercial confidentiality and the dual use of these materials, any legislation would be so draconian that I think it would be totally unworkable.

  Q282  Mr Illsley: Finally, just a personal opinion given what you said this morning about not finding trace elements and the length of time it takes, do you think we are going to find any weapons in Iraq?

  Dr Inch: I have no idea. I am totally open. I started by saying that sometimes intelligence get it right and sometimes they get it wrong and I think that we are still in that situation. From the Committee's point of view, I would have to take a much closer look at some of the data to see how much you believe.

  Q283  Chairman: After lecturers by all the best scientists, we are still confused but at a much higher level of confusion. Thank you very much indeed.

  Dr Inch: I will try and let you have a few notes on this.[4]

  Chairman: We look forward to your further memorandum.

4   Ninth Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, Session 2002-03, The Decision to go to War in Iraq, HC 813-II, Ev 2. Back

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